Janelle Monáe Fems the Future

Janelle Monáe has blessed us with two new music videos “Make Me Feel” and “Django Jane” and I don’t know about you, but they’ve been on repeat at my house.

Both songs are Black feminist anthems that explore gender, sexuality, and race. Watching these videos is an escape away from daily stress – they remind me that I am an empowered woman of color and should celebrate the intersections of my identities. Monáe herself calls her videos “emotion pictures” after all. 

“Make Me Feel” features Tessa Thompson and the storyline of a bisexual woman of color, Monáe, celebrating joy and freedom at the club. Monáe freely dances with two love interests, her rumored IRL girlfriend Tessa and a man at the bar. Inspired by Prince, Monáe celebrates sexual fluidity and splashes each scene with bright colors and glitter outfits to express.

Throughout the video, Monáe evokes an ethos of self-determination. She struts through the club owning her sexuality, stares directly into the camera, and signals that no one can control her.

And Monae graced us with her #BlackGirlMagic by releasing  “Django Jane” on the same day, a rap about her own journey and the importance of Black representation in the media.

“Yeah, Jamanati they still jammin’

Box office numbers, and they doin’ outstandin’

Runnin’ outta space in my damn bandwagon

Remember when they used to say I look too mannish

Black girl magic, y’all can’t stand it

Y’all can’t ban it, made out like a bandit

They been trying hard just to make us all vanish

I suggest they put a flag on a whole ‘nother planet”

Monáe told the Guardian that Django Jane is “a response to me feeling the sting of the threats being made to my rights as a woman, as a black woman, as a sexually liberated woman, even just as a daughter with parents who have been oppressed for many decades. Black women and those who have been the ‘other’, and the marginalized in society – that’s who I wanted to support, and that was more important than my discomfort about speaking out.”

Whether we’re straight or queer, a person of color or not, Monáe shows us how to center marginalized voices and celebrate self-love. Plus her beats are sick.

Image Credit: “Make Me Feel,” Janelle Monáe

Amanda R. Matos, proud Nuyorican from the Bronx, NY, is the co-founder of the WomanHOOD Project, a Bronx-based youth-led organization for young women of color. She is dedicated to empowering communities of color through capacity building, political education, and civic engagement. Amanda has led community organizing and policy initiatives at Planned Parenthood of New York City and Girls for Gender Equity. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government as a Sheila C. Johnson Fellow. On her free time, Amanda eats doughnuts and watches great TV shows like Jane the Virgin and Blackish.

Amanda R. Matos is a community organizer and reproductive justice activist from the Bronx, NY.

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